Reduce your horse’s seasonal stress by slowly switching from pasture grass to hay
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Switching from pasture to hay too quickly can lead to disruptions in the microbiome, which can result in GAS COLIC.
Slowly making the transition from pasture to hay allows the microbiome to adapt without disrupting the delicate balance.
Diversity in grass vs. hay
The wide variety of plants available in a pasture creates a diverse microbiome in the horse that depends on a broad spectrum of nutrients.
- Orchard Grass
- Crabgrass Fescue
- Nontoxic Native Weeds
- Clover and Native Legumes
Hay is typically made up of a limited number of species that don’t provide as much nutrient diversity.
- Timothy hay
- Orchard/legume mixed hay
- Orchard/bluegrass mixed hay
The moisture content in grass is much higher than that of dried hays. This change in moisture can contribute to the development of IMPACTION COLIC.
When decreasing turnout and replacing grass with hay:
- Reduce the time your horse spends out on pasture and provide supplemental hay in its place.
- A good rule to follow: a horse can consume the equivalent of about 1 lb of hay per hour of grazing.
Horses typically graze about 17 out of 24 hours when turned out full time. Horses turned out part-time may eat the entire time they are outside!
When horses will remain turned out while fall pasture growth slows:
- Put out additional hay one flake at a time.
- Slowly increase the amount over two weeks.
- Start your transition early enough so that your pastures do not get overgrazed.
If your pasture is healthy and large enough, you may not have to supplement additional hay at all. The summer grasses will slowly convert to standing hay as winter temperatures set in.
As horses transition from grass to hay, their water requirements will increase. Always provide free-choice clean water and a salt block or loose salt.
Monitor winter pastures carefully for overgrazing and offer supplemental hay as needed.
If you have a horse that develops diarrhea or colic during seasonal transitions, begin supplementation at least 30 days prior to the transition period.